Summary: If the house, once cleaned of this demon, is not filled with goodness, the evil spirit will return with seven more vices and perversions and make our souls even worse, our souls and families even sicker.
Third Sunday of Lent 2017
Today we find Christ, speaking through the Church’s liturgical texts, teaching us about the birds and the bees. I say the birds because the Communion verse tells us that the sparrow has found a home and the turtle dove a nest to lay her young near the Lord’s altars. We should remind ourselves that the Temple in Jerusalem had very little in the way of roofs, so birds could fly in. Swallows daub their mud nests on the vertical walls of buildings, and there have their young, so there’s always birdsong in the sanctuary, a kind of prayer St. Francis of Assisi would appreciate. In fact, the composer of today’s communion verse put some little bird song right into the melody of the chant. Listen for the prayerful little ululation in the melody as you receive the Lord in the Eucharist.
And as far as the “bees” go, St. Paul is clear that we should be imitators of God, and should not be partakers of sinful behavior, especially fornication, uncleanness, covetousness or obscenity. All of these miscreant actions are perversions of the beautiful gift of our sexuality, which God has ordered to be used in only one way–in marriage between one faithful man and one faithful woman. So as we enter the third full week of Lent, the Lord wants us to consider how our behavior conforms to the Beatitude: blessed are the clean of heart, for they shall see God.
How do you clean a heart? Always the first step is to admit there is a problem, and the second is to appeal to a stronger power for help. Jesus gave us the sacrament of reconciliation as our sure means for both. Back in my youth, we were warned away from impure hearts, and particularly advised to shun pornography. But pornography is a bigger problem now than it has ever been, since it is no longer confined to hidden places in lockers and under mattresses. The Internet exports it from thousands of perversion sites into our very homes. Moreover, statistical analysis shows that many, perhaps most men, and a large number of women, spend time viewing it. Those who do have to realize that this practice is harmful to our personal emotional and spiritual life, our relationships with others, particularly spouses, and our families. It is not a solitary sin–by using it we are harming everyone from the models and actors right down to the youngest members of our families. Pornography is a black hole that sucks in everything that is good. There is no level or amount that is harmless. All of it must be given up. Confession, absolution, and the grace of God that comes from this repentance can effect a cleansing. God has the power to drive out the demon. St. Michael the Archangel and our Blessed Mother are powerful allies in the fight.
But as Jesus says, that’s not enough. If the house, once cleaned of this demon, is not filled with goodness, the evil spirit will return with seven more vices and perversions and make our souls even worse, our souls and families even sicker. Thus, to remain clean of heart, we must allow the Holy Spirit to amend our lifestyles.